SOURCE: The Oregon Idea

The Oregon Idea

January 25, 2011 13:50 ET

Business Community, Alumni of Oregon's Colleges and Universities Call for Reforms and Prioritization of Post-Secondary Education

The Oregon Idea Contends Education Foundational to State's Economic Future

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire - January 25, 2011) -  Investing in Oregon's post-secondary education today will lead to economic prosperity tomorrow. That's the message a newly formed coalition of small business owners, CEOs, community leaders, and alumni of Oregon's post-secondary institutions are taking to Salem this month.

The Oregon Idea argues that if action isn't taken now, Oregon is at risk of having a lower-educated, lower-skilled workforce in a time when the state must have greater educational attainment to be able to compete in today's global, borderless economy.

"A strong post-secondary education system is a must if Oregon wants to remain competitive in a global economy," urged Sandi McDonough, President of the Portland Business Alliance and Board Member with The Oregon Idea.

"From our linemen to our electrical engineers, PGE relies on Oregon's post-secondary education institutions to train a qualified workforce," added Jim Piro, CEO of PGE. "The Oregon Idea is about more than just our education system. It's about our economy, our jobs, and our future. PGE is proud to be part of this effort."

For the first time in the state's history, businesses, Community Colleges, OHSU, and all seven of Oregon's public universities are united on a legislative effort.

Founding Board Member Jim Francesconi had this to say, "Perhaps my friend Preston Pulliams, President of Portland Community College said it best -- 'Unity brings power.'"

The Oregon Idea is united around a three-part legislative agenda for 2011: 1) Oregon must prioritize investments in its network of community colleges; 2) Oregon must prioritize investments in its only health and research university (OHSU); and 3) Oregon must reform its university system to ensure access for Oregonians.

"As a small business owner, I believe investing in post-secondary education is key to preserving the economic vitality and livability of central Oregon," added Charley Miller, President and CEO of Miller Lumber and Chair of the Central Oregon Community College Board.

Bill Thorndike, President and CEO of Medford Fabrication echoed Miller's sentiments, stating, "As a steel fabricator with customers across the globe, Medford Fabrication relies on employees who understand the needs of our customers and can adapt our products to each unique situation. A high quality post-secondary system is critical to our company's success, providing us with employees who can compete in a global economy."

"As a board member of Clackamas Community College, I am excited to see Oregon's post-secondary community unite behind this legislative effort. Together, we will have strength in numbers," commented Dr. Chuck Clemans.

Piro, Miller, Thorndike, and Clemans are all Board Members with The Oregon Idea.

The Oregon Idea is asking those interested in joining the effort to sign-up online and to take action by joining the discussion on Facebook, sharing the message in their communities, writing letters to legislators, or testifying in Salem. Over 1600 Oregonians have already pledged their support.

With such a broad, unified voice behind the effort, and the Oregon Legislature focusing on job growth and economic development, The Oregon Idea is optimistic that its vision for Oregon's post-secondary education system could become a reality.

Oregon's economic future, The Oregon Idea contends, depends on it.

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THE OREGON IDEA is a coalition of small business owners, CEOs, community leaders, and alumni of Oregon's Community Colleges and Universities who share a common vision for Oregon's post-secondary education system. The Oregon Idea is this: Investing in post-secondary education today will lead to economic prosperity tomorrow. www.TheOregonIdea.org

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